Learning curve of femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery: Experience of surgeons new to femtosecond laser platform

Indian J Ophthalmol. 2017 Aug;65(8):683-689. doi: 10.4103/ijo.IJO_258_17.


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to assess the learning curve in the initial 100 cases of cataract surgery performed using femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery (FLACS) by experienced cataract surgeons without prior experience in femtosecond laser platform.

Methods: This study was conducted at tertiary care eye hospital, South India. This was a prospective interventional study. The first 100 consecutive eyes undergoing FLACS were studied to understand docking time, number of docking attempts, problems encountered during docking, and complications attributable to docking. Phacoemulsification performed after femtosecond laser was also studied for complications, need for additional instrumentation, and total time required for surgery. Comparison was also made between two operating surgeons.

Results: Successful docking was recorded in 70% eyes at the first attempt. Mean time taken for successful docking was 9.3 ± 6.4 min (median = 6 min, interquartile range (IQR) = 5-10 min, range = 4-35 min). When surgeries were divided into quartiles, docking time reduced significantly from 16.2 ± 7.9 min in the first quartile to 6.2 ± 2.7 min in the fourth quartile (P < 0.001). Phacoemulsification postdocking required 12.9 ± 6.2 min (median = 10 min, IQR = 9-17.5 min). Six eyes showed anterior capsular tags, one had radial extension of capsulorhexis, and two eyes showed pupillary miosis after femtosecond laser application. At 6 weeks, 79% eyes attained uncorrected vision of 20/20, and all eyes had best-corrected vision of 20/20.

Conclusion: Approximately 25-30 cases were required before obtaining reproducible results with FLACS, irrespective of cataract surgical experience, suggesting that training programs must offer a minimum 25 surgeries. Very few complications occurred during the learning curve, making it patient friendly.

MeSH terms

  • Cataract Extraction / education*
  • Cataract Extraction / methods
  • Education, Medical, Continuing*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India
  • Laser Therapy / methods*
  • Learning Curve*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ophthalmologists / education*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surgeons / education*